Funding, Not ‘Lectures,’ Is Needed for International HIV/AIDS Fight, New York Times Editorial SaysSpeeches delivered earlier this month by Secretary of State Colin Powell and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson "lectur[ing]" representatives of 86 countries on the "importance of political leadership in fighting" HIV/AIDS "should have been directed at" political leaders in the United States, a New York Times editorial states. While members of the Bush administration are "not blind to the catastrophe" of HIV/AIDS, the "urgency" with which administration officials speak of the pandemic disappears when funding to halt the disease is discussed, the Times says. Although the United States' pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria of $500 million over two years is the largest so far, compared to the size of its economy, the United States is giving half of the amount that European countries have promised. The U.S. contribution would need to be $2.5 billion annually "to make a difference," the editorial states. In addition, the Times says that the administration's "showpiece program" in the fight against HIV/AIDS -- an initiative that seeks to combat vertical HIV transmission that has not yet received any funding -- "undercut a better proposal" by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) that would have spent $500 million on similar programs. Further, the Senate, on the last day of its most recent session, struck down a bill agreed on by the House and Senate that would have provided $4 billion over two years to combat HIV/AIDS worldwide. According to the Times, in the face of the most "urgent" problem facing the world, the United States and the world "cannot afford" for the administration to forgo a "real plan to put cash behind the administration's statements." The editorial concludes, "American officials should not be giving anyone lectures while Washington's response to the major catastrophe of our time remains limited largely to words" (New York Times, 12/16).
A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of the statements made by Powell and Thompson at the World AIDS Day event is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.